Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
For defense attorneys, the biggest jury verdicts are the ones that come in at zero. Last year, for example, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold successfully defended against an $8 million suit brought by a woman who said that her 7-year-old son Martell was fatally crushed by a poorly manufactured electronic gate. It was among three California cases on The National Law Journal‘s list of big defense wins in 2001. Plaintiff Patricia Stephenson, who was represented by San Francisco attorney Debra Bridges, alleged that the gate should have had a mechanism that would make it go in reverse when an object or a person blocked it. Stephenson said she suffered psychotic episodes and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital twice after her son died. At trial before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Patrick Zeka, Stephenson sought millions in compensatory and punitive damages in Stephenson v. Stanley Works, 7682436. Bridges put on a series of witnesses, including Jordan Kinkead, a mechanical engineer. Kinkead testified that the electronic gate had several manufacturing flaws, which made it unsafe. But during cross-examination, Sedgwick’s P. Beach Kuhl produced photos of the engineer’s house in Atherton — which had a similar electronic gate to the one that trapped Stephenson’s child. “We proved that he had the same equipment and had it on there for years,” said Kuhl, now a retired partner. Kuhl argued that case with Janet Alexander, a former Sedgwick associate. Michael Welch, a name partner at Concord’s Caudle, Welch & Umipeg, represented the Ross Villa homeowners association, the group that owned the Oakland property and the gate. The jury voted 12-0 for the defense on negligence and defective design claims. The jurors also voted 10-2 for the defense on the failure-to-warn allegation. Eventually, the plaintiff was ordered to pay some defense court costs. Also, the plaintiff was ordered to return a $107,000 settlement she had reached with Ross Villa because she had set aside the settlement agreement to pursue the trial, Welch said. Bridges made a motion for a new trial, which was denied by Zika. And when the defense team surveyed the jurors after trial, Kuhl said, they repeatedly referred to Kinkead’s testimony. Related chart: Big California Defense Wins

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.